The first group of approximately 200 US Marines with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) has arrived at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin in Australia.

The personnel arrived at the base following extensive planning and coordination between the two countries involved.

This coordination was aimed at addressing challenges posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “MRF-D is an important initiative that deepens interoperability between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the US military.

“Australia’s Alliance with the US is our most important defence relationship. It sends a clear signal about our commitment to the security and stability of our region.

“The fact that we were able to modify MRF-D and mitigate risks associated with Covid-19 to allow it to proceed is a strong testament of the resilience of our alliance.”

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All marines will undergo biosecurity screening and tested for Covid-19. They will then be quarantined for 14 days at defence facilities in Darwin.

As a precautionary measure, the marines will be tested again for the virus prior to exiting the quarantine period.

Under the initiative, the US Marines will train with ADF personnel at various defence training facilities, including Mount Bundey and Kangaroo Flats.

In the following eight weeks, the MRF-D rotation will include 1,200 personnel who will undergo training until September.

Exercise Koolendong will mark an end to the rotation, with the signature MRF-D/ADF bilateral high-end warfighting activity. Once completed, the marines will be redeployed to Japan and the US.

In October last year, the US Marines completed MRF-D 2019, the eighth annual rotation of marines in Australia.

MRF-D 19 left the Northern Territory after concluding the latest rotation.